Friday, April 3, 2020

Trust In Jesus and Do the Next Right Thing

Life has changed a great deal across the United States in the past month as COVID-19 has been spreading. Even before a stay-at-home order was issued in our state, my family began a self-quarantine at home. We have been taking the need for social distancing seriously, both to protect our own health and to protect others. We have been staying in our home unless we must leave for something important like a doctor's appointment or groceries. But if we can avoid going out for those things, we do! Will doesn’t even go to the office for work anymore; he works from our basement.

The quarantine life started for us on March 16. William and Adelaide came home from school at noon, and we began a two week break from school. The kids and I kicked it off with a movie afternoon! We popped popcorn, made hot chocolate, and watched Frozen 2. This was my first time watching Frozen 2, and I loved it! There was a message in it that I found to be very timely as COVID-19 spreads across the world.

I am probably one of the few people who had never seen Frozen 2, so perhaps you already know the basic storyline. The kingdom of Arendelle was in danger, and the townspeople had to flee for safety. Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven set out to find the answers they needed to save the kingdom from certain destruction. The situation was overwhelming and scary, and everything felt out of control. The wise old troll told them that "all one can do is the next right thing." These words were repeated several times throughout the film. In fact, Anna even sang a song about doing the next right thing!

The words, "do the next right thing," stood out to me because they were very similar to something Elisabeth Elliot used to say in her writing and speaking. I read these words from her last summer in the book, Suffering Is Never for Nothing:
There's an old legend, I'm told, inscribed in a parsonage in England somewhere on the sea coast, a Saxon legend that said, "Do the next thing." I don't know any simpler formula for peace, for relief from stress and anxiety than that very practical, very down-to-earth word of wisdom. Do the next thing. That has gotten me through more agonies than anything else I could recommend.

Elisabeth Elliot was a missionary in Ecuador in the 1950s with her husband, Jim Elliot, and they had a baby girl, named Valarie. They had been married for less than 3 years when Jim and 4 other missionary men were speared to death. After Jim died, Elisabeth chose to stay in Ecuador with Valarie and continue the mission work. In the midst of her grief, she focused on doing the next thing. And in the years to follow, she would often encourage others with that simple phrase: “do the next thing.”

As I watched Frozen 2 with my kids, it was fun to hear words that were so close to Elisabeth Elliott's. It was also a good reminder to simply do the next right thing when life is hard and scary. And it all seemed very timely due to the global pandemic that is happening currently!

There is much that is unknown right now. We don’t know what the schools will be doing in a month. We don’t know who will catch the virus or when. We don’t know when we will be able to safely leave our homes. We don't know what exactly is going to happen with the economy. We don't know what is going to happen to people in third world countries who lack adequate food, shelter, clean water, and medical care. It is easy to look at the COVID-19 pandemic and become paralyzed with fear. What can we even do?

We can trust in Jesus. And we can do the next right thing.

What is the next right thing for you? Maybe it is snuggling with your children and reading books. Maybe it is calling an elderly neighbor to see if you can pick up groceries for them. Maybe it is taking a nap. Maybe it is making a conscious decision to rest in the sovereignty of God. Maybe it is spending time in prayer. Maybe it is making supper. Maybe it is giving your baby a bath. Maybe it is supporting Mercy House or another nonprofit that serves people in third world countries.

There is something for you to do. Do that thing. And then do the next thing.

Our God is still sovereign. None of this has come to us apart from His knowledge or power. He is in control. He is loving and faithful and good. If you love God and are called according to His purpose, then He will work this out for your good! Trust in Him when everything seems scary and out of control.

We don't need to know how long the Coronavirus pandemic will last. We don't need to know how it will all turn out. But we do need to trust in Jesus and do the next right thing.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

And in case you haven't seen it, here is Anna singing The Next Right Thing in Frozen 2.

What is the next right thing for you today?

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